Terrorists and the Media

Distinguish the way the media was utilized by terrorist organizations in the past (1960s to 1990s) to advance their objectives to that being employed today. Specifically address both the pre-9/11 style terrorist means of communication and influence and contrast them with the current day. Make sure to specifically address current terrorist use of the internet and social media.


Terrorists and the Media

Before the evolution of technology and internet, communication was generally difficult. Terrorists’ actions and activities could be suppressed by the mainstream media and people could not know what transpired in different parts of the world. Coordination of activities by terrorists was harder. Terrorists had travel far and wide to acquire training which cannot be compared to today’s times where training can be done from anywhere as long as there is a connection of internet. However this meant that if the meetings were conducted secretly, it was harder for the law enforcement to detect and prevent. For instance, the bombing of the twin towers on 9-11 was very difficult to track or detect by the authorities since the terrorists maintained face to face communication and were very careful not to use the electronic media (Smith & Zeigler, 2017). There was also a record 1599 suicide bombing between the years 1980 and 2009 over around 33 countries. These attacks were impossible to prevent as there was no trace of their activities beforehand.

The 21st century has seen the development and growth of mass communication in a whole different way. Computers and mobile phones have given rise to the use of internet which has really geared the spread of information through global platforms. Social media has enabled communication across the globe and terrorism has become more coordinated and rampant due to the increased ease of communication. For instance, terrorists spread propaganda such as images and videos on their websites which is in turn broadcasted by mainstream worldwide media. These terrorists’ websites serve as dangerous platforms where they teach their followers criminal activities such as activating bombs and operating missiles (Jetter, 2017). Terrorists have also turned to active chat rooms such as telegram, emails and blogs which have a wider effect than that in the 20th century communication. Terrorists can thrive and incite their followers now by simply spending time sitting in front of a computer.


Jetter, M. (2017). The effect of media attention on terrorism. Journal of Public Economics153, 32-48.

Smith, M., & Zeigler, S. M. (2017). Terrorism before and after 9/11–a more dangerous world?. Research & Politics4(4), 2053168017739757.